The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century

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9780002559201: The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century

John Brewer's landmark book brings to life the rich cultural life of eighteenth-century England. He describes how literature, painting, music, and the theater related to a public increasingly avid for them; how artists used, or were used by, publishers, plagiarists, impresarios, and managers; and how contemporary ideas of taste combined with patriotic fervor and shrewdly managed commerce to create a vibrant, dynamic national culture.

"A magnificent achievement. . . . Enormous in its scope, astute in its choices of examples, learned in its resources, but written with an almost unfailing lucidity and accessibility." —David A. Bell, New Republic

"Brewer takes us on a grand tour of the exciting, fluid, often raucous world of the 18th-century arts. . . . A brilliantly illustrated social history." —T. H. Breen, New York Times Book Review

"Every so often a work of intellectual history comes along that reinvigorates the common reader's interest in the past. . . . Exhilarating. . . . No one interested in modern intellectual history should miss it." —Michael Dirda, Washington Post

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About the Author:

John Brewer is Director of the Center for Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Studies and Director of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Review:

"[T]his history book is now, for me, the last word on how British literary culture changed between the last days of the early modern period and the Victorian age ... give this book as a present to your favourite amateur historian: they will love you for it." - Kate Macdonald, Vulpes Libris

"Pleasures of the Imagination paints a kaleidoscopic picture of eighteenth-century culture that is both erudite and accessible." - Heather Mcpherson, University of Alabama at Birmingham

"If you want to understand how British culture reinvented itself in the eighteenth century, read The Pleasures of the Imagination... Like all really original achievements it makes us sharply rethink things we supposed we knew well, but it does so with humour and humanity, and through the text runs Brewer's remarkable intellect: forceful, lucid and penetrating." - Simon Schama

"The Pleasures of the Imagination is a splendid cornucopia of a book. It describes the contortions of the eighteenth century as it developed a culture... It is full of pure delight... The marvel of this book is that in writing in exuberant detail about the past, Brewer succeeds in illuminating the present... This book wears its massive scholarship lightly. I hope some of our new political masters have time to read it, for it is a history that teaches us many lessons." - Peter Hall, The Observer

"Brewer ranges over almost every corner of the English mind with sharp, darting observation... Brewer is perceptive, amusing and thorough wherever he strays. This is by far the most complete and up-to-date account of the evolving Georgian arts... We are shown round a society aiming at Rome but often hitting Babylon, with the combined attitutes of fin-de siecle Paris and of Las Vegas. This is a book to treasure as it treasures a past we thought we had lost." - Pat Rogers, Sunday Telegraph

"A model of the new cultural history... In Britons, Linda Colley highlighted the new political, patriotic and religious tides which flowed in the Georgian age, creating a fresh confidence and sense of national identity... The Pleasures of the Imagination confirms this view of the main of the public mind. It shows how the English came to feel not just strong but civilized too, polite as well as powerful. God's chosen people, of the age of Cromwell, were reinventing themselves as Shakespeare's heirs." - Roy Porter, The Independent

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